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Experimenting with galettes

"In short, vegetables luxuriating in a bath of fat, cradled in more delicious fat. That's called a galette, FYI." Daniel Gritzer - Serious Eats

I was so taken with that recent pumpkin and carrot galette, and I had a yen for pastry today, that I thought I would have a go at creating my own galette but with totally different ingredients. Well I don't have any pumpkin but I do have some beans that should be used.

This was my starting point for an afternoon of thinking about this and a late afternoon of actually giving it a go. However, I have already made a bit of a start by draining some Greek yoghurt in the laundry. You see I don't have any mascarpone - as Ottolenghi used in his recipe - for a base, or any creamy kind of cheese. So I thought of labne. Not that my 'labne' will be really labne but it will at least be a bit thicker than just yoghurt and David found the base of yoghurt and cream that I used last time instead of the mascarpone, too runny. I could thicken it with some ordinary cheddar perhaps - or Parmesan might be more appropriate.

I also remembered that this entire exercise of writing a daily blog on and around the subject of food had been inspired by Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries volume 3 which had been given to me at a now long ago Christmas or birthday. In it he writes small pieces about what he has been doing with food on that particular day, followed by a recipe. Now I never had any intention of writing recipes as so many blogs do. What I cook is almost always either something I have grown up with, an often used recipe for my early years of cooking, a new and exciting recipe I have come across - I try to do this once a week - or more likely - something thrown together with what I have in the fridge. Not usually reporting on specifically, although often leading to a ramble around a particular dish or a recently discovered recipe. Thus this rambling post - a kind of journal of my thought processes re what to cook for dinner.

I actually began today thinking of cooking some kind of fish cooked simply but crusted with dukkah - salmon maybe. But I didn't go to the shops today and by the time I was well down that train of thought it was really too late to defrost the whiting fillets in my freezer. And by the way, if you haven't tried fish - fried, grilled or baked with a dukkah crust then try it some time. It's delicious. Chicken too. But I have no fish so that can be tomorrow - Friday is fish day anyway - so all good. It goes well with the Friday bottle of white wine too. Or maybe rosé if it's salmon.

With a lemony, buttery sauce perhaps. And I could have those beans as a side. Or any of the other green things in my fridge.

Then I thought of doing a quiche. It's one of my very regular go to dishes. You can put just about anything into a quiche. But truth to tell I'm not really in the mood for all that egginess - having treated myself to scrambled eggs on toast for lunch. Now there is one of the world's truly great taste sensations. It takes about five minutes to make, is nutritious and all it needs is a bit of salt and pepper to finish it off. Nourishing as well. Perhaps my favourite way of eating eggs, because the eggs are untainted by anything else. Texture, colour, taste - it's all there in three ingredients - butter, eggs, bread - plus a tiny bit of cream today because I was feeling in need of a bit of spoiling.

Pastry though was very tempting. And I thought back to how much David had liked the pastry for that Ottolenghi galette. And a galette is so easy too. So then I started to think how I could use up what is in my fridge - some carrots, perhaps some pak choy, those beans, maybe even some tomatoes on top. I could mix some herbs in with the labne, and garlic too - you can probably never have enough garlic.

"Once you discover the versatility of the galette and its ability to act as a template, it’s hard not to look at everything in the world with one question: could I put it in a galette? It’s the home cook’s best friend in that the messier and more rustic it is, the better it looks." Meera Sodha

So being a bit diffident about my own experimentation expertise I started looking for actual recipes. My own experimentation, I knew, would come up with something Ok, but not Wow. I shall never achieve that on my own. The little magic touch that chefs seem to have.

But here I drew more or less a blank. The green tarts, or even galettes that I found just fundamentally dumped almost raw green things on a puff pastry base. This sort of thing, which is very pretty but not what I'm trying for. Someone put crispy mushrooms on top though, which was a thought to tuck away, having bought some mushrooms on special in Aldi yesterday, and which brought back memories of a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall mushroom tart.

However, puff pastry, even shortcrust pastry or filo was not what I was after here, because in some ways my starting point was Ottolenghi's flaky pastry. It was flavoured with sage, but I might use something else today - oregano or thyme perhaps.

Then I hit pay dirt as it were with an article by Daniel Gritzer on the excellent Serious Eats website called How to Make Vegetable Galettes. And this answered a few of the questions running around in my mind to do with the preparation - or not - of the vegetables.

"many vegetables, if packed raw into a galette, will never tenderize sufficiently in the time it takes to bake the crust. Others, like tomatoes, will dump their juices, threatening to turn the filling into soupy slop." Daniel Gritzer - Serious Eats

I had thought of tomatoes but am now wondering, because I'm not in the mood to pre roast anything today. I could slice them and drain them on kitchen paper for a while. That might work. Or I could slice and griddle.

He also had a very nifty way of folding the pastry over the vegetables. I just scrunched it all together somehow last time. His way (top of the page) is rather neater, but then as Meera Sodha said the more rustic the look the better.

As to my vegetables - well I first have to decide which I want out of - carrots, beans, peas, snow peas (no I don't think so - save them for the fish), onions, pak choy, mushrooms and maybe even potatoes. If they were sliced thinly enough they might make a nice topping. I could cook the carrots, beans and peas with some butter, and the others could be caramelised and mixed in with the labne perhaps. Or the mushrooms could be crisped and added right at the end? Cheese on top - too much?

Then I went to find the original recipe because I need the pastry instructions and the timing. I had a memory of it needing to be rested in the refrigerator a couple of times. Curiously it took me a few goes to find the recipe. I had forgotten which book it was in - too many books. I should do another weed some time soon. But I was right about the resting time. I had forgotten though that he glazed his butternut squash and carrots with an orange and maple syrup glaze. Is this appropriate here with greens?

And here I cast my mind to a couple of other recipes of Ottolenghi's in which a kind of pesto or chermoula is dripped over the top at the end. Or something crunchy. Yes will try that.

Before I gave up on searching and having a go I found at last a Nigel Slater recipe for a Cheesy green galette which is not what I'm after but confirmed in a strange sort of way that I was on the right track. Or did it simply tell me to have a go at this some time soon. Filo pastry - not what I'm after. Vegetables I don't have to hand, and a somewhat runny looking base. No, not really what I'm after. Tempting, but I'm not going to change track now.

Ok - time to make a start on the pastry I think. And ponder on the rest. My kitchen diary for the day. Such is my exciting life. I'll post a picture of the results tomorrow - however awful they might be. At least I shall be able to tick my vegetarian meal of the week box.


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